Talking Down to Me Won’t Make Me Look Up to You
Why You Should Check Your Ego Out of Every Conversation
A client recently asked me to join her on a conversation with a new contractor she had hired. My client is technologically challenged. Systems like LastPass, Infusionsoft, Teamwork, etc. drive her crazy with their complexities, so she was unable to share access with the new team member.
Before I go any further, I praise my client for knowing her strengths and admitting her weaknesses. So often, entrepreneurs focus on strengthening their weaknesses rather than on accentuating their strengths. Over time, this mis-focus stiffles business growth, while focusing on strengths would have nurtured it.
The new team member immediately made it clear that she thought my decision to place the client in Infusionsoft was bad.
“I’ve been doing systems for clients ____ and ____ and ____ for over 20 years, and they love what I do because I’m good at it.” she nasally said to me. “There’s no reason why (client) should be in Infusionsoft.”
While I won’t get in to the meat of the conversation, five minutes in, I found myself shaking with anger and ready to hang up.
Please note: Not many people get under my skin like this, but when people do, it’s often due to this:
Lack of listening and lack of respect.
At one point during the conversation, Client asked me a question, and as I began to answer. I was promptly interrupted by noob.
I was shocked.
Excuse me? Is one of my preschoolers part of this conversation?! I was talking!
It’s taken time, but over the years I’ve been in business I have slowly begun to learn how to stand my ground and stand up for myself, and I was not about to be trampled on.
“I wasn’t finished talking.” I said. “Would you mind letting ME finish?”
Noob shut up.
I stated my opinion and the reason for it, and paused.
Again I heard, “I’ve been doing systems for clients ____ and ____ and ____ for over 20 years, and they love what I do because I’m good at it.”
Dear Miss High and Mighty, when you started your business, I was in college, but I’m also damn good at what I do. And I don’t know what was taught in your schooling or who mentored your entrepreneurial journey, but clearly they didn’t teach the fine art of communication, listening, or tact.
Since I started my business in 2012, I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and team members. I can count those who lacked tact on one hand (or less). And I’ll tell you that none of them are overflowing with clients, opportunities or success.
I’ll also tell you that in the same time frame, I’ve had three babies. I’ve had more kid-related sick days, delays and, well, just flat-out space outs than I would like to admit. But I’ve worked damn hard to get to where I am, and have achieved the success I have because…
I make mistakes, and I admit them.
If it’s possible, I’m too humble. I prefer to shine the spotlight elsewhere, and make others feel awesome. I don’t need to talk down to people to elevate my self-worth.
And I’ll tell you what…
Talking down to me won’t make me look up to you.
I had a husband who did that once, and I moved on. After 13 years together, the realization finally kicked in that I didn’t need to feel like an ant in the middle of a county fair. I could simply pack my bags and move somewhere where it wasn’t the goal of others (aka ex-husband and in-laws) to trample me.
And now, eight years later, I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow anyone — client or contractor — to talk down to me.
No, thank you.
I have brains. I have brilliance. And I shine radiantly. And when others talk down to me, I’m going to snuff that fire immediately.
Talking down to me won’t make me look up to you.
Check your ego at the door, and put your listening ears on before entering a conversation.
Know that you may have 20 years of experience, however you need to earn respect, not demand it.
Practice using mute if you need to, to control your tendency to talk all over others and their thoughts. Others have as much of a right to display their knowledge as you think you have the right to vocalize theirs.
And, for the love of all that is holy, know that God created more people than just you. We’re all here for a reason, and I guarantee it’s not to talk down to others.
Dearest readers, the conversation aforementioned ended with noob and I agreeing to disagree. However… during the course of the conversation, I made an “Oops.”
Not thinking about the fact that we were doing a screen share allowing us to view Client’s screen, I texted client while Noob was talking down to me.
“I don’t like her.”
I was fuming.
A second later, I heard a ding.
Up on Client’s screen popped my text. “I don’t like her.”
Noob didn’t say anything about my text, and I don’t know that she saw it, but between you and me, this was definitely not my proudest moment.
While I may have just expressed my displeasure for how she was talking down to me, I’ve been troubled since that day, thinking about how she may have seen it. This was the first time we ever met, and despite how she was treating me, I should have known better.
Whether we’re talking verbally or sending messages via our devices, we always need to think about the impact of our words.
Would we want somebody else to see them? Do our words have the potential of hurting others? Is that our intention or our desire?
Talking down to me doesn’t make me look up to her, however I don’t know what type of day she was having, what’s going on in her world, or what’s she like as a person. Sure, this might just be her, but I didn’t give her an opportunity to prove otherwise.
Do I want to?
My first impressions are usually spot on.
However, now I’m embarrassed that her first impression of me may not be simply a disagreement over which CRM should be used, but that I was tactless enough to send Client an “I don’t like her.” message.